Crawford County motorists need to pay closer attention to the roadside during the next couple months.

Crawford County motorists need to pay closer attention to the roadside during the next couple months.

Deer rutting season is about to begin, which means more deer will be crossing city and county roadways. In Kansas, rutting season — when bucks are looking for does with which to mate — occurs primarily during the month of November, said Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks Wildlife Manager Rob Riggin.

“We may see some increased movement from this point forward, too,” Riggin said.

The rutting season is based on photo period, or the length of days, Riggin said. Bucks often fight each other for dominance and chase does wantonly, often driving them across roadways.

“They do move more when the weather is cool, so we’ll see even more movement now.” Riggin said. “When we hit mid-November you could see deer moving any time of the day.”

Bucks also spend much of the season stocking up on food to strengthen up for mating and winter. Crawford County is experiencing sever drought conditions, which has reduced the amount of available roughage, but Riggin said he doesn’t think that will cause any adverse effects.

“The bucks are thinking a lot more about chasing does, rather than finding food,” Riggin said. “They’ll just stick closer to food sources.”

According to a release from Response Insurance, drivers need to be particularly cautious of deer foraging near roadsides, especially during shorter fall days. More drivers are on the road at the very times when deer are most active — dawn and dusk. An adult deer can weigh more than 200 pounds and cause thousands of dollars worth of damage to a vehicle. It also can cause cars to veer off the road. Reports indicate that hundred of thousands of deer are hit by cars each year in this country.

Here are a few basic cautions for drivers:
• Scan a wide swath of the roadside.
“Drivers just need to be aware of what’s going on in their periphery, what’s out on the side of road, when they’re driving,” Riggin said.
• Slow down when approaching a deer standing near the side of a road and be prepared. If startled, it can bolt onto the roadway and into your path. If necessary, honk your horn and flash your lights to try to scare the deer.
• Deer Crossing signs are there because it has been determined that this is an area they use to congregate and migrate. Take the signs seriously particularly those installed specifically for this time of year.
“Be extra careful around travel corridors and near creeks,” Riggin said. “Those attract a lot of deer movement.”
• Be cautious in wooded and agricultural areas where there is little distance between the road and the woods.
“Some of these back roads with brush right up to the ditches, you just have to slow down cause there’s no way to see them,” Riggin said.
• Deer whistles or ultrasonic deer avoidance systems attached to vehicles have never been proven to work by independent studies and may give drivers a false sense of security.
• Be particularly careful at dawn and dusk and when driving either over a hill or around a curve, where visibility is limited. Use your high beams to give you a greater area of visibility and allow you to see the deer’s eyes sooner.
• Be alert for more deer than you may see at that moment. Where there is one deer, there are often more nearby.
“The bucks are chasing does, and they sometimes have a couple fawns with them,” Riggin said. “Where there’s one, there’s at least two.”
• In many instances, it is best not to swerve around the deer since the deer may move in the same direction. You may also inadvertently hit another vehicle, or go off onto a dangerous shoulder. Unless certain of those road factors, it is often best to simply brake and continue in your lane of traffic.